A Maghera mum has called for a tailored treatment for Atopic Eczema, which has totally changed her son’s life, to be made widely available in Northern Ireland.
Arlene Lynch’s son, Dara, had his first break out of Eczema at four months old, and the next few years were “unbearable” for the toddler.
“Initially we put it down to a reaction to his formula milk, so we changed it but it didn’t have any effect. His skin began breaking out and we were prescribed topical ointments and creams,” said Arlene, who now lives in Feeny.
“It was a real battle for the next couple of years. Night time was the worst for him and we went over 18 months without a full night’s sleep.
“My husband Ryan and I would lie awake at night tapping Dara’s skin to try to ease the uncontrollable itch.
“His Eczema got so bad that he had to be bandage-wrapped and began having regular admissions to hospital,” she added.
“Our GP said it was one of the worst cases he had ever seen. We were referred to Anderson House and Dara would be bandage-wrapped every 24 hours. When the wounds oozed, we would have to cut the bandages from his skin.
“He was covered from top to toe in steroid cream at vast volumes and repeated oral antibiotics. But these were always quick fixes and while his skin would ease briefly, it was never maintained.”
Arlene said Dara’s Eczema was particularly bad on his hands, legs, lower back and face.
“It was heartbreaking for us to watch, because it was so severe.”
As Dara began nursery school there were many things he was unable to do as a result of the skin condition.
“There were days when his hands were clawed and he couldn’t open them because of the wounds. Other days he would have limped out to school, but he was so good, he knew no other way.
“At nursery he couldn’t play in the sand with the other children; he couldn’t do the water play or even touch play dough. Anything would have triggered the Eczema and cause a flare up.”
Arlene and Ryan continued to take Dara to regular appointments with the dermatologist but conventional treatment “just wasn’t working. Everything was just a quick fix”.
She went on: “There were times when we were walking the floors with Dara 24/7 because of the itch. We couldn’t go out for a meal or anything in case he started scratching. If we went anywhere where there was any heat at all, he would go mad with the itch.
“He knew no different though, it was a way of life for him.”
The family exhausted every option available and eventually it was recommended that Dara start immunosuppressants.
“We refused, he was four and a half years-old and although the Eczema was hard on us as a family, we just didn’t want to go down that road.”
A family friend contacted Arlene after she heard about the Aron Regimen on a radio station in Dublin.
“We immediately searched for it online and applied to join a waiting list for a consultation with Dr Aron. He is a South African dermatologist who has been in practice for over 40 years. He has successfully treated thousands of people all around the world.”
The family had to wait for three months before they had a consultation.
“We paid £100 for the consultation and we were a bit sceptical to start with, but we were desperate and would have tried anything to help Dara.”
Arlene had to send Dara’s medical history, photographs and details of all the treatments he had tried.
“Dr Aron tailors a compound for each individual patient which includes a small amount of steroid cream, antibiotic cream and a large volume of emollient.
“We received the first compound from a pharmacy in London in October, 2015 and within a week Dara had his first full night’s sleep in more than a year. Within two weeks you could see the difference in his skin and all the wounds had started to heal up.”
Initially the cream was applied to Dara’s skin five times a day, however, that was reduced over time and it is now applied just once a day.
Arlene said Dara is now like a different boy.
“The impact of this treatment on our family life is immeasurable. We are quite a sporty family and thought that Dara would never be able to play for our local GAA club in Feeny because of his skin. He is now out playing underage football and is loving it,” she smiled.
“We had never been able to take Dara swimming because of the chlorine in the pool, but he is getting swimming lessons now.”
Arlene said she has been inundated with messages from parents whose children have Eczema after she shared photos of Dara on social media.
She called for the treatment to become widely available in Northern Ireland.
“There are many chronic Eczema sufferers. If we didn’t have this treatment Dara would still be getting bandage wrapped and would be in and out of hospital.
“We are thankful to Dr Aron for accepting Dara onto the regimen and enabling him to be the happy, active boy he can now be.”